A Treacherous Likeness by Lynn Shepherd

Lynn Shepherd is a British author who studied English in Oxford and worked as a freelance copywriter for more than a decade.

A Treacherous Likeness is the third book in Image of book A Treacherous Likenessthe Charles Maddox series. I have not read the first (Murder at Mansfield Park) but read the second (Tom-All-Alone’s) over six years ago. I enjoyed it so much that I borrowed A Treacherous Likeness from a friend shortly after, unfortunately I have only just got round to reading it (thankfully my friend is patient).

(Note: Outside of the UK, Tom-All-Alone’s is called A Solitary House, and A Treacherous Likeness is called A Fatal Likeness)

A Treacherous Likeness follows Charles Maddox, an investigator in the mid-19th century, as he works to unravel the mysteries surround the life of poet Percy Shelley and his wife, author Mary Shelley.

Throughout the book I found myself changing my opinions of the main characters continuously, in fact I’m still not 100% sure what I think of them. There is a lot of history, London in the 19th century, the class system etc. There is also a lot of interesting information about the Shelleys. This is of course combined with fictitious characters and events. The author’s note at the end is very helpful in separating fact from fiction and speculation.

I found this book to be an enjoyable read. I like Shepherd’s way of writing, she occasionally talks to you separate from the story, discussing how a behaviour would result in a medical diagnosis nowadays etc. Although it takes you out of the period the story is based in, it seems to somehow bring you closer to the characters.

This book has raised a lot of questions for me about the Shelleys and even about Byron. I’m leaving it with lots of curiosity and will be doing some research about them all to sate it.

I really enjoyed reading this and am pleased to see that there has been a fourth book released in the series, although it does seem to be only on the Kindle that I can find it. Regardless, I hope it’s not another six years before I read it. I would also like to go back and read the first in the series.

Police, Crime & 999 by John Donoghue

John Donoghue has had a variety of jobs in the past including sailor and soldier, and is currently working as a policeman (and obviously an author). (I will admit that I have found myself wondering if he is starting up his own ‘Village People’ tribute band, is construction worker his next job of choice?)

PoliceCrime999Police, Crime & 999 is Donoghue’s second book (the first being Shakespeare My Butt), but his first about being a police officer. It runs through a number of incidents and events that occurred during his first year at ‘Sandford’. There are an increasing number of nonfiction books out there that are based on the jobs people have where they have to deal with the public, from people who have worked in the police, to paramedics, and GPs. With the other books out there, why decide to read this one? The simple answer? Because it’s brilliant.

I feel that I should at this point advise, strongly, that you not read this book in public (most definitely not in a library), or anywhere you would rather not draw attention to yourself or you need to be quiet. It is extremely likely that you will laugh, chuckle, and groan loudly – a lot. I know I did.

Donoghue has a great way of writing, he has a very conversational style with regular tangents that are actually quite informative and educational. Whilst reading this book you feel like you’re sat having coffee with a friend as they fill you in on the happenings of the week – and there has been a lot happening!

Right from the introduction, as Donoghue recounts the story he was told that made him realise joining the police was the best way to escape a boring job, you start to realise how bizarre situations and people really can be.

From the neighbourhood dog mess inspector, to Donoghue’s very different approach to attempting to talk someone off a ledge, and then the strangest 999 calls, this book gives you an insight into what it’s like to work for the police, deal with the public, and put up with the office politics.

‘Sandford’ could really be any town – I recognised a number of the ‘characters’ Donoghue wrote about, from places I have lived – both past and present. You could despair about society when reading this, but I think that the fact that there are people like Donoghue dealing with it should give you some hope… maybe… Just don’t let him near a snowman. And you should probably ask him to take off his shoes before inviting him into your home and offering him a cup of tea.

To sum up, if you want to read a book that makes you laugh (and appreciate your job a lot more) you can’t go wrong with Police, Crime & 999. This is one person who is grateful to have been gifted a paperback book last Christmas, and it’s not even because I have a wobbly table!